European Film Awards: The gloriously eccentric Euro-Oscars
The big winner, Cold War, will barely scrape an Academy Award nomination
Director Armando Iannucci poses with the Best European Comedy award for ‘The Death of Stalin’. Photograph: Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images
The European Film Awards and the Oscars are the same sorts of things. They hand out shiny statuettes to films and to the people who make them. Those films and those people are often the same.
There won’t be much crossover this year – not least because English-language films didn’t figure much. The big winner in Seville, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, which took five European Film Awards including best film, will struggle to secure more than a nomination for best foreign language picture at the other awards. But films such as Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech have figured at both.
The ceremonies are, however, very different in texture. The Oscars are slick and bland. The wandering European Film Awards, which landed this year in Seville, are gloriously, triumphantly eccentric. Even the clunky moments are delightful.
The entire set up was geared towards the peculiar. There is occasionally an inclination towards the weird jokes that cause lost-in-translational groans at the Eurovision Song Contest, but the sense of a “high concept” binds the show together (even if that concept is hard to fully grasp).
“Tonight we want to take you all out on the town,” Rossy de Palma, the actor best known for work with Pedro Almodóvar, told us. “We are meeting on stage with a bar and the group and the dancers.”
She wasn’t kidding. A rotating body of hosts (something the Oscars may return to this year) sat at a functioning bar while a band played a rollicking mix of flamenco and jazz. The sound of clattering heels could be heard during announcements. At least one winner joined the presenters for a snort on stage.
It’s hard to select the oddest moment. The lengthy skit about the importance of beards in the acting profession was certainly one. The Russian actor pretending (I think) to fly into rage at the fact that too many Polish actors were asked to play his countrymen was another.
Then there was the pregnant presenter who, right after opening the envelope, trotted back to slug a drink and then say: “Ha ha! It’s only water.”
The actor Tom Wlaschiha quipped: “We Germans are always careful with our right arms.” Really? Is that okay?
For Oscar regulars, however, the most startling aspect will surely have been the inclusion of at least three, apparently scripted uses of the F-word on stage. The Academy would be as likely to recommend mass murder (or feeding pints to pregnant ladies). This was all being broadcast live in English from 7pm Spanish time.
Remember when we thought they did things differently “on the continent”? Maybe they still do.
The people who used to say “on the continent” were the same people who voted for Brexit and that unhappy saga ran through the ceremony like a message through the Brighton rock that Barmy Brussels Bureaucrats have probably banned for being too bendy (or something). There was much, vague, nudge-nudge discussion of a “divided” Europe that cinema could maybe help to bring together.
There was some more risky material from presenters such as de Palma. “Even if you are having problems, if you feel lonely, it’s important to talk,” she said. “We must be there for each other. Right? We need the feedback. I am not going to talk about it. It rhymes with ‘sexit’. Half of Europe is having a bad day with a lover. Then he cannot even take off his tight underpants.”
You what now?
The actor Amira Casar, who spent time in Ireland as a child, was more apocalyptic. “As a child of Europe, being brought up between France, England, Ireland, Wales... My Europe felt harmonious, united. Based on a solid cultural heritage,” she said. “But sadly, our Europe today, is increasingly resembling the disastrous, divided Europe of the 1930s.”
If you went to the bathroom at the wrong time you could be forgiven for thinking that the UK had already picked up its ball and left the field. There were only a handful of nominees from that country and only one winner in normal time.
Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin won best European comedy. Ralph Fiennes also received a “contribution to European cinema” gong.
Iannucci could hardly offer Brexiteers a more sobering warning of how horrible “on the continent” can really be. A centre-left intellectual with a sufficiently ironic temperament to build a black comedy around the passing of a dictator, the Scottish writer and director is the walking embodiment of pan-national eclecticism.
“As the first person on this stage from the UK, can I say that I love Europe?” he said. “And this is a European film. I am Scottish and Italian. It was shot mostly in England. We were financed by the French. We did post-production in Belgium. It shows what a great idea it would be if European countries came together with the UK and worked in… I’ll call it ‘a European Union’.”
He got a hearty laugh. You would struggle to find a single person in this audience who approved of Brexit’s chipping away at the union. But that isn’t the constituency that matters. For all the talk of unity, the European Film Awards represents everything that hard-line Brexiteers loathe about the EU. It’s a bit weird.
Being foreign is bad enough, but it can’t even settle on what class of foreign we’re talking about. There are Russians, Germans and Spaniards presenting. All that “bad language”. All those worryingly angular political jokes, This is exactly what they expect “on the continent”. It’s a wonder nobody got her bosoms out.
Was it for this that Britain stood alone? And so on.
And the winner is...
European Film 2018
Written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Produced by Ewa Puszczynska and Tanya Seghatchian
European Comedy 2018
The Death of Stalin
Directed by Armando Iannucci
Written by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin
roduced by Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun, Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Kevin Loader and Sidonie Dumas
European Discovery 2018 – Prix Fipresci
Directed by Lukas Dhont
Written by Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens
Produced by Dirk Impens
European Documentary 2018
Bergman – A Year in a Life
Directed by Jane Magnusson
Produced by Fredrik Heinig and Mattias Nohrborg
European Animated Feature Film 2018
Another Day of Life
Directed by Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow
Written by Raúl de la Fuente, Amaia Remirez, David Weber, Niall Johnson and Damian Nenow
Produced by Jaroslaw Sawko, Amaia Remirez, Ole Wendorff-Østergaard, Stefan Schubert and Eric Goossens
Animation: Rafal Wojtunik, Rafal Kidzinski and Dominik Wawrzyniak
European Short Film 2018
The Years, by Sara Fgaier
European Director 2018
Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War
European Actress 2018
Joanna Kulig in Cold War
European Actor 2018
Marcello Fonte in Dogman
European Screenwriter 2018
Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War
European Cinematographer 2018 – Prix Carlo di Palma
Martin Otterbeck for Utøya – 22 July
European Editor 2018
Jaroslaw Kamínski for Cold War
European Production Designer 2018
Andrey Ponkratov for The Summer
European Costume Designer 2018
Massimo Cantini Parrini for Dogman
European Hair and Make-up Artist 2018
Dalia Colli, Lorenzo Tamburini and Daniela Tartari for Dogman
European Composer 2018
Christoph M Kaiser and Julian Maas for 3 Days in Quiberon
European Designer 2018
André Bendocchi-Alves and Martin Steyer for The Captain
European Visual Effects 2018
Peter Hjorth for Border
European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
European Achievement in World Cinema
Honorary Award of the European Film Academy President and Board
European Co-production Award 2018 – Prix Eurimages
Konstantinos Kontovrakis and Giorgos Karnavas
People’s Choice Award 2018 for Best European Film
Call Me By Your Name
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Written by James Ivory and Luca Guadagnino